The Bakken Shale and underlying Three Forks formation in North Dakota are the latest targets for independent exploration and production company Breitling Oil and Gas Corp., which in 2011 reported progress in oil and gas projects in its focus areas in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Breitling recently announced that it had acquired a large acreage position in the Sand Creek field, a proven and prolific part of the Bakken in McKenzie County, ND, and plans to drill six Bakken and Three Forks wells there during the next 24-36 months (see Shale Daily, Dec. 28, 2011). Included in the acquisition was one producing well, a Breitling spokesman told NGI‘s Shale Daily.

“We believe the Bakken and Three Forks represent a game-changing resource play for the United States and will be a major focus of Breitling’s future exploration and production activities,” said CEO Chris Faulkner.

The Bakken, which encompasses some 25,000 square miles in North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and the Three Forks, which lies directly below North Dakota’s portion of the Bakken, hold an estimated 5-10 billion bbl of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil according to one U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report, Breitling said.

The USGS recently began a two-year study of the Bakken to obtain a better estimate of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas contained in the U.S. portions of the shale play (see Shale Daily, May 24, 2011). The USGS last performed an assessment of the Bakken in 2008. That study estimated mean undiscovered volumes of 3.65 billion bbl of oil, 1.85 Tcf of natural gas and 148 million bbl of natural gas liquids. The oil figure — a 25-fold increase over a 1991 assessment of 151 million bbl of oil — represented the largest amount ever assessed by the federal government and the largest in the Lower 48.

The Bakken/Sanish/Three Forks Basin area has seen a steady increase in drilling activity over the past year. According to NGI‘s Shale Daily Unconventional Rig Count, the number of rigs searching for natural gas and oil in the area was 202 on Dec. 30, a 25% increase from 161 rigs at the same time last year.

While Breitling’s exact net acreage position in the Bakken is unclear, the three leaders in the play are Continental Resources (901,098 net acres), Hess Corp. (900,000 net acres) and Whiting Petroleum (682,839 net acres).

Irving, TX-based Breitling had a series of accomplishments outside the Bakken in 2011, including the continuation of a 2010 program to develop Gulf Coast onshore acreage, the completion and fracking of oil and gas wells in Gaines and Hemphill counties in Texas, and the spudding of wells in St. Helena Parish, LA. On Dec. 6 the company spud the first horizontal well in its Golden Ridge Cleveland Sand development prospect in Logan County, OK.

Breitling is active in the Woodford, Eagle Ford, Granite Wash and the Bone Spring and Clearfork formations in the Permian Basin, and has established production and operations in both the Marcellus Shale and Horn River over the past 24 months, according to spokesman Jennifer Jones. The company’s operations in the Haynesville Shale are held by production and are shut in awaiting an uplift in natural gas prices, Jones said.

Breitling also holds ownership interests in both operated and outside-operated leases in Canada, Europe and the Middle East.